Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week:
An official from the British High Commission in Ottawa will give an update on Brexit and discuss the implications for Canada in Calgary on Monday. Experts told The Canadian Press in November that a post-Brexit United Kingdom will present Canadian business with tremendous uncertainty over billions of dollars worth of trade and investments, as the U.K. represents one of Canada’s top five destinations for investments and top 10 markets for goods and services.
Interest rate decision
The Bank of Canada will make its interest rate announcement and release its monetary policy report on Wednesday. Positive December employment numbers from Statistics Canada have helped convince economists that the central bank will continue to keep its key interest rate on hold at 1.75 per cent, where it has been for more than a year.
Rogers Communications will hold its fourth-quarter conference call on Wednesday. Federal Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said last week that expected cuts to wireless rates by mobile-phone service providers must be in addition to price reductions already seen since 2016, a position described by an industry organization as “confusing.”
Statistics Canada will release its consumer price index for December on Wednesday. The agency’s previous report stated that inflation rose 2.2 per cent in November compared with a year ago to end a three-month streak where the annual pace of inflation had held steady at 1.9 per cent.
Statistics Canada will release its fourth-quarter “StatsCannabis” crowdsourced cannabis prices on Thursday. The agency previously reported that the average cost of a gram of cannabis fell 6.4 per cent to $7.37 in the third quarter as the legal price fell for the first time, although illicit weed continued to be significantly cheaper.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020.
Caught on camera: Man chases dangerous driver after 911 puts him on hold – CBC.ca
Sam Gill says he had a knot in his stomach as he watched a driver in front of him barrelling down a busy road in Mississauga, Ont., weaving in and out of oncoming traffic, jumping a curb and hitting a snowbank so hard the impact knocked his headlight off, though that didn’t stop him.
When Gill dialled 911 for help, he was put on hold.
Just before 8 p.m. on a Sunday last month, Gill spotted the other motorist “driving erratically — can’t stay in his lanes, can’t maintain control of the vehicle.”
“Every second that passed, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my god, somebody is going to die,” he said.
Canadians make an estimated nine million calls to 911 every year, taking for granted that someone will answer, says Holly Barkwell, the Canadian region director of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), an international organization that works to improve 911 service.
“Unfortunately, that is not the case everywhere across Canada,” she says. In reality, Barkwell says, the 911 system might not work as expected because it’s fragmented, underfunded and operating on technology that’s over 50 years old.
“It’s been ignored too long. It’s an issue of public safety.”
There are no mandatory standards in Canada, but voluntary standards set by NENA in 2006 say 90 per cent of 911 calls should be answered within 10 seconds, and 95 per cent within 20 seconds.
But because there is no national oversight on 911 service, there’s no way to tell how Canada measures up.
In Gill’s case, he was on hold for almost six minutes (his phone was hands-free) while he chased the dangerous driver — honking and flashing his lights, trying to warn others to steer clear.
“At this point I’m saying to myself … if  doesn’t answer, should I push him off the road? I might hurt him in the process, but I might save his life and potentially the lives of others,” he said.
Peel Regional Police, which runs the 911 service in Gill’s area, says it was swamped with double the usual number of calls at the time, adding it had a “record number” of calls in 2019, though an exact number wasn’t available.
By the time an operator answered and police arrived, the driver had crashed into another snowbank and passed out behind the wheel, with his vehicle still in drive, Gill said.
He says an officer told him the man was drunk. Peel Regional Police wouldn’t confirm that with Go Public.
Similarly, Helena Shepherd-Snider couldn’t reach 911 when her husband had a heart attack in 2016. Instead, she got a recorded message saying the number was not in service, and to dial zero for the operator.
Initially, she says the operator refused to call for her, telling Shepherd-Snider she should do it herself.
“It felt like a double whammy. [I was thinking] where else can I go? What can I do? Time was of the essence,” she said.
After about 15 minutes, she convinced the operator to call 911. She credits fast-working paramedics for saving her husband’s life.
When the dust settled, Shepherd-Snider discovered everyone on her block — about half a kilometre outside Sudbury, Ont. — had 911 service except the last four houses including hers.
Depending on where you live, 911 is run by municipalities, the police or the province, while telecom companies are responsible for supplying the network needed to connect the calls — an example of how the system is fragmented, according to Barkwell.
When Shepherd-Snider called Bell and the municipality, she says they “passed the buck” — neither correcting the issue. Instead, Bell cut off 911 service to her neighbours. ]
The company tells Go Public that their block is outside Sudbury’s service boundaries and that Shepherd-Snider’s neighbours “had been erroneously provided with 911.”
The city says those houses are a provincial responsibility and have separate emergency numbers for ambulance, fire and police.
Shepherd-Snider had no idea.
The shortcomings of the 911 system were flagged back in a 2013 CRTC report and, says Barkwell, haven’t changed. The report found:
- A wide gap between Canadians’ expectations and the reality of the 911 system.
- No mandatory standards for 911 services.
- Inconsistent funding.
- No federal oversight.
- Some outlying communities have no access to 911.
- Some call centres in urban areas are overwhelmed and don’t have the funding to fix the issue.
One of the biggest problems, according to Barkwell, is that 911 services still use old analog technology, which makes it difficult to locate people using mobile phones.
She says mobile apps have a better chance of locating someone than 911.
“The biggest question I get from people often is how come Uber can find me and how come Domino’s Pizza can find me but 911 can’t find me?” Barkwell said.
A number of recent deaths have highlighted other problems with 911 services, and how they co-ordinate with emergency personnel.
B.C. is promising changes to its 911 system after a woman bled to death after waiting 35 minutes for an ambulance in Vancouver in 2018. An ambulance was dispatched promptly, but attendants were unable to reach her because the doors and an elevator in her building were locked, and firefighters were called in too late.
“People have lost their lives and people will continue to lose their lives,” said France Gélinas, the NDP MPP, who last year put forward Bill 75, which is currently before the social policy committee.
Gélinas says she doesn’t believe the Tory government will pass the bill, however, and, when asked by Go Public, the provincial Ministry of Health wouldn’t say. Spokesperson David Jensen said the government has established a task force to look at the problems with the system, including the coroner’s recommendations.
Ontario does not have legislation to govern delivery of 911 service or to provide secure funding for it. Certain provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec do.
In March, the CRTC introduced a plan to modernize 911 networks in Canada. As part of that plan, telecoms must upgrade from analog technology to digital by June 30, 2023.
It’s a good start, says Barkwell, but doesn’t address the many other problems like inconsistent or inadequate funding.
In the meantime, after his experience with the dangerous driver in Mississauga, Sam Gill says he worries what might happen to his family or others if there is another emergency.
“We’ve lost our faith and that’s not a good feeling,” he said.
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More than half of Canadians think 2019 was a bad year for Canada: Ipsos poll – Global News
According to a new poll, more than half of Canadians think 2019 was a generally bad year for Canada.
Among the results, 75 per cent of Canadians expect an increase in global temperatures in 2020 while over six in 10 Canadians said they believe gender wage equality won’t be reached this year.
Jennifer McLeod, Ipsos vice president of public affairs, said a majority of Canadians are actually still feeling positive for this year — despite their view of 2019 as well as the negative predictions they’ve made for 2020.
“You know, while some things that Canadians are worried about have met these negative predictions … I do think that on the whole, they are feeling positive,” said McLeod.
The poll also found that about three-quarters of Canadians feel that 2020 will be better overall year than 2019, as well as about four in 10 feel that the global economy will be better.
“Though Canada isn’t quite as optimistic about this as some other countries, you know that’s still not a bad number — we’re looking for that silver lining,” she said.
Canada’s outlook on the last year was still not as negative compared to other countries around the world, the poll found.
Almost two-thirds of those polled globally thought of 2019 as a bad year for their country compared to 54 per cent of Canadians.
Why climate change in the Arctic affects us all
When it comes to their personal experience, only 42 per cent of Canadians thought last year was bad for them and their family compared to 50 per cent of those polled everywhere on average.
McLeod said that although she wasn’t surprised by the results, what stood out the most to her were the predictions on both climate change and loneliness.
“It’s turned into the issue of our generation,” McLeod said of climate change.
“We see that this is continuously an important issue for Canadians today and it has been a growing issue over the last (few) months. Environmental responsibility is important to most Canadians.”
One question on the Ipsos poll asked whether or not a person would feel lonely most of the time in 2020, a question Canadians measured 29 per cent in compared to the global average of 33 per cent.
McLeod attributes it to the prevalence of mental health issues.
On a lighter note, Ipsos also asked how likely it would be for aliens to visit Earth in 2020 — a scenario only 1 in 10 Canadians thought was likely.
“Some might see that as a good thing, some might see that as a bad thing but it’s just a minority of Canadians that feel that way,” said McLeod.
This Ipsos poll was an online survey of 22,512 interviews conducted between Nov. 22-Dec.6, 2019. The results were weighted to balance the demographics of the adult population among the countries surveyed. The precision of the Ipsos online poll with an unweighted probability sample and 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for a sample of 1,000, and an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points 19 times out 20 per country of what the results had been if the entire country’s adult population had been polled.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Thousands without power as N.L. braces for more snow – CTV News
Thousands of residents in Newfoundland and Labrador are without power as they attempt to dig out from a record-breaking snowfall before another storm hits the region Sunday night.
According to Newfoundland Power, over 3,000 people remained in the dark Sunday morning as temperatures dipped to -20 C with the wind chill and the threat of another 10 to 15 centimetres of snow loomed in Sunday night’s forecast.
The biggest challenge facing hydro crews is one the entire province is grappling with – digging out after the biggest storm recorded in Newfoundland’s history.
St. John’s experienced a record-breaking one-day snowfall of 76.2 centimetres during the storm, snapping the previous record of 68.4 centimetres set in 1999. The unbelievable accumulation buried cars and homes, prompting the Canadian Armed Forces to be called in.
The first order of business for military crews will be to assist with snow removal and help emergency service personnel navigate treacherous road conditions.
During a press conference Sunday afternoon, Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan said between 150 and 200 military personnel will be on the groundby the end of the day, a number that could rise to 300 in the coming days.
Two Hercules aircraft and helicopters are also being made available.
“The military is there to provide the support, but the decisions of where they need to go will be done in close coordination with the experts who know the communities and areas of where support is going to be needed,” Sajjan said.
St. John’s residents are being urged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. While the city remains under a general state of emergency, gas stations and pharmacies were allowed to open Sunday for emergency needs.
“The City is lifting some restrictions although the general state of emergency is still in effect. Gas stations may now open for emergency fuel needs; pharmacies for emergency medication refill; private snow operators may begin work,” read a statement posted to Twitter.
St. John’s airport cleared an airfield for medevac and military aircraft Sunday morning, but said commercial flight operations would not resume until at least 8 p.m.
In addition to snow-blocked roads and high drifts, hydro crews were also left to deal with salt spray and heavy icing on power lines and equipment, making restoration efforts difficult.
Customers without power are being urged not to use outdoor heating sources inside their homes.
“It’s really important to maintain safety,” Dawn Dalley, vice president of corporate and customer services, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, told CTV News Channel Sunday.
“It’s really important for people to use their generators outside, keep them well ventilated, and not bring appliances that generate heat inside the house if there are flames and cause for fire.”
Newfoundlanders remain in good spirits despite storm
Despite struggling to dig out from the record storm, many residents remain in high spirits.
“It’s a beautiful day actually, if we didn’t have 80 to 90 centimeters of snow,” Paradise, N.L. resident Rob Lyver told CTV News Channel, noting that he wasn’t afraid of the additional snowfall in Sunday night’s forecast.
“We’re going to continue moving the snow around and cleaning up… 15 to 20 centimetres is nothing.”
In St. John’s, snowboarders made the best of the situation by turning snow-covered streets into slopes.
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